WorldDAB at Radiodays Europe 2023

04.04.2023 by Will Jackson

As the radio industry gathered for the 2023 edition of Radiodays Europe, held last week in Prague to mark the centenary of Czech Radio, two major themes emerged.

Much of the talk both inside and outside the conference halls was about the impact of AI on radio and audio. Global’s James Rea said: “the power of radio is personal and emotional - it can make you laugh and cry. I don’t think that can be replaced by a robot.” The other recurring topic was the importance of securing radio's prominence in the connected car and on smart speakers.

In the opening session, EBU Head of Radio Edita Kudlácová said: “Radio should not just be easy to find – it should be impossible to miss.” This theme was picked up straight after by Noel Curran, Director General of the EBU, who noted: “the strongest growing demographic for spoken-word audio is the 13-24-year-old age range. Great audio content is still IN demand but it is now consumed ON demand with the listener in control. We need strong multiplatform distribution strategies to ensure radio continues to provide a reliable voice for millions of citizens, particularly for in-car audio.”

Paul Robinson stands on stage on the left speaking, with Edita Kudlácova on the right looking at him smiling

Event host Paul Robinson (left), with EBU Head of Radio, Edita Kudlácová (Photo: Radiodays Europe)

Meanwhile Stefan Moller, President of the Association of European Broadcasters, won a round of applause for saying: “We are in the middle of an audio revolution… the content will be fine, we know how to do that, but we must be able to be found on every audio platform. Radio rules, it is the mother ship of audio!”

A session later on Monday covered the numerous benefits of DAB+ in three different European countries. In Germany, prior to the launch of DAB+, the focus had been on local and regional markets, explained Erwin Linnenbach, Managing Director of Teutocast. However with DAB+, Germany has finally been able to create a “normal radio market”, with new national markets and brands. “The new audio landscape in Germany is full of opportunities,” said Linnenbach.

Karel Zýka of Czech Radio noted that all its stations are now available on DAB+, with seven of them exclusively on DAB+. He said listenership on DAB+ in the Czech Republic is already at 14% and growing, with two more national DAB+ networks to launch this year. Finally, Ole Jørgen Torvmark, who led digital radio switchover in Norway, said that five years on, 36% of listening is to new stations which have launched since the national switch to DAB+ radio. He noted the distribution cost for all 33 national DAB+ stations is similar to that for the previous five FM-only national stations.

Ole Jørgen Torvmark stands at a lectern on stage at Radiodays Europe. To the left of him is a screen showing a slide headed "Why/how did radio in Norway succeed?" and a logo with a radio and the slogan "You get more RADIO in a digital radio"

Ole Jørgen Torvmark speaks at Radiodays Europe 2023

Several sessions focussed on the automotive market. Xperi launched its DTS AutoStage Broadcast Portal, which gives broadcasters insights into how their in-car listeners are engaging with their content from the car. The data include: The geographic definition of the audience; Popular locations and thoroughfares; Programme performance, including most popular formats and content; and Retailer heat maps, showing shopping locations in proximity to station’s audience. “Is radio ready for the future?” asked Joe D’Angelo, senior vice president of broadcast and digital audio at Xperi, adding: “digital migration is happening right in front of your eyes.”

Joe D'Angelo stands on stage to the left, speaking into a microphone he's holding, while Desmond S. Fuller stands to the right.

Xperi's Joe D'Angelo (left) and Desmond S. Fuller (Photo: Radiodays Europe)

Elsewhere, Christian Winter from CARIAD introduced its new software, which he said will reshape the automotive experience. The CARIAD app launches later this year and will offer hybrid radio including online station following, with seamless switching between broadcast radio and online. 

Radioplayer’s Laurence Harrison announced a new long-term partnership with Renault. The new deal will see cars from Renault displaying official station information (eg logos, descriptions, now-playing data) from the Worldwide Radioplayer API (WRAPI) to power a state-of-the-art hybrid radio experience. Renault’s vehicles are embedding the OpenR Link interface to power their infotainment experience, and Radioplayer has established a market-leading position in this area, with its hybrid ‘Reference Radio’ app. This is able to switch automatically between DAB+, FM, and Streaming, and also offers station recommendations and podcasts.

Ahead of the main conference, on Sunday evening, XPLR: Media in Bavaria held a reception at the Repräsentanz des Freistaats Bayern in Prague. Dr. Thorsten Schmiege, President of the BLM [Bayerische Landeszentrale für neue Medien / Bavarian regulatory authority for new media], spoke about its support for digital innovations, working together with strong partners. Guy Frankel from Rock Antenne said that “radio still has a soul” – urging stations to find their community and dedicate their work to it. “Find and keep your soul,” he urged.

Melanie Walter stands to the left in front of a red banner with the logo of XPLR: Media in Baveria. She is looking at Dr. Thorsten Schmiege speaking holding a microphone and standing in front of EU, Czech and Bavarian flags in a window.

Melanie Walter from XPLR: MEDIA in Bavaria (left), and Dr. Thorsten Schmiege, President of the BLM

On Monday evening, WorldDAB held a well-attended “happy hour” drinks reception, on the 24th floor of the Corinthia Hotel, with an excellent view of the Žižkov Television Tower which provides DAB+ coverage for the city. WorldDAB's President Patrick Hannon provided an overview of DAB’s growth in the past twelve months, and introduced Karel Zýka from Czech Radio, who welcomed guests to the city and restated Czech Radio’s commitment to DAB+. Carsten Zorger from Digitalradio Büro Deutschland stressed the importance of public and private broadcasters working together, and WorldDAB Vice President, Jacqueline Bierhorst, reiterated the importance of radio’s place in the car dashboard.

Jacqueline Bierhorst holds a microphone standing behind a round high drinks table while speaking to the WorldDAB happy hour reception

WorldDAB's Vice President, Jacqueline Bierhorst 

Next year, Radiodays Europe will be held at the ICM Munich from 17-19 March. Local support for hosting the 2024 event is provided by Bayerischer Rundfunk, Antenne Bayern Group, Verband Bayerischer Lokalrundfunk (VBL), Vereinigung Bayerischer Rundfunkanbieter (VBRA) as well as the City of Munich and the Free State of Bavaria. The local partners are coordinated by XPLR: MEDIA in Bavaria. Stefan Sutor, from XPLR: MEDIA in Bavaria, said: “In Bavaria there are over 90 private radio stations, which is unique in this form in Germany. Whether on air, via DAB+, or online, Bavaria is a special place for audio innovation. Together with local partners, we will make Munich the hotspot of the international audio industry in March 2024.”

Meanwhile, WorldDAB Automotive 2023 will be held on 15 June, in-person and online at Radio France’s Maison de la Radio. Join us in Paris or online to discover the latest initiatives broadcasters and auto manufacturers are working on to enhance the radio listener's experience in the car. Leading car brands and radio broadcasters will share their vision on the opportunities and challenges presented by connected cars and why DAB+ remains essential for radio's future. For in-person delegates, the event day will be preceded by an informal networking drinks reception. This event is free to attend, and registration is now open

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